The Wind from the East

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 February, 2007, 12:00am

The Wind from the East


by Almudena Grandes


Phoenix, HK$96


The east wind of the title is introduced early in this novel as though it were an idiosyncratic character: it can be pleasant yet capricious and it determines the mood of the weak. Responsible for calm or chaos, and not only on the Andalusian coast where the story is set, it blows through the lives of Sara Gomez and Juan Olmedo, who live opposite each other in a small seaside complex. As the story unravels of the lonely Sara - who was given away as a baby to be raised by her wealthy godmother, then forced back into the home of her impoverished real family - so too does that of the mysterious Juan. This doctor is in Jerez with his retarded brother and his niece, apparently orphaned after her mother was killed in a car crash with a new lover, and her father (Juan's other brother, Damian) fell to his death during a fight with his sibling. The dispute centred on Juan's affair with Damian's wife. Two narratives work their magic as though there's all the time in the world for love, family and redemption. But it doesn't take long to show why Grandes is one of Spain's best-loved authors.